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Supporting families with more community schools

NYC SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR CARMEN FARIÑA | 5/18/2017, 12:34 p.m.
Bringing schools and communities together as partners to build a better future for students and families is common sense. Since ...
Carmen Farina

Bringing schools and communities together as partners to build a better future for students and families is common sense. Since 2014, we have launched 150 community schools across the city, and this September, 69 additional schools will be transforming their school buildings into neighborhood hubs. Totaling 215 schools this fall, the hundreds of community schools locaed in all five boroughs provide students and families with after-school programs, connections to social services, social-emotional supports, family engagement and mentoring. 

Pairing schools with strong community-based organizations embeds these critical services into schools’ daily routines—not as an add-on but as an essential part of how a school functions. Across community schools, families receive health and wellness supports, expanded learning hours and opportunities to get more involved in their children’s educations.

This September, each of these 69 additional schools will partner with a CBO, bringing new social-emotional resources and a range of wraparound services to support the whole child. With this expansion, more than 108,000 students citywide and their families will benefit from these resources. 

Last year, I visited P.S. 188 in Manhattan, where dedicated educators work tirelessly to meet the needs of every student and parent. The school provides extra uniforms, is open Saturdays, invites families to use its washer and dryer, and supports guardians as they look for employment. This week, I had the honor of calling Principal Suany Ramos to congratulate her on winning a national award from the Coalition of Community Schools that recognizes her school as an exemplary community school with the Individual Community School Award. Principal Ramos brings together a clear focus on academic improvement and a close-knit support network through the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation and the Educational Alliance, community school partners. P.S. 188 helps students if they need to overcome barriers that could keep them out of school—kids cannot focus on learning if their dirty clothes are a reason for discomfort and embarrassment, which can often times affect performance in class. 

New York City is leading a national movement that aligns community resources with top-quality academics, enrichment, health and social services, and opportunities to enable students to succeed in school and in life. Community schools are a real game changer that removes barriers to learning and student success, and ensures equity and excellence for all students. 

With the addition of 69 community schools, we will support even more families across the city and build on these successes. Together, we can build strong communities and help students and families succeed.